I have many friends in the education system. With that, so are MY CHILDREN. I copied this from a friend's blog. Please read it over. Pass it along if you want. Is there something we can do?
So, you may or may not have heard about the proposed changes to the Idaho Education System proposed by our superintendent, Tom Luna. I am not one to use this blog for political things very often, if ever, but besides the fact that my family and many of my friends and students are involved in the education system here, I really think that this stuff is wrong. I know there isn't enough money, there never is. BUT spending it on stuff like this and proposing changes like this is not the answer. I am summarizing some of the propositions that have been made--and inserting my personal perspective, being married to an educator who spends 12 hours a day working for his employer, the Meridian School District.
How school funding in Idaho works:
In Idaho, funding is tied to what you might think of as a classroom: for each classroom, a district receives money to hire a teacher, some support staff, and enough money to pay for the principals that will supervise all the staff in a school building. In addition, each classroom receives money that is used to pay for heat and light, books and supplies, staff health care benefits, and the 15% of busing costs that are not directly paid by the state.
THE BIGGEST PROPOSED CHANGE:
Increasing the class size in grades 4 through 12 AND reducing the salary it pays to teachers, administrators, and support staff.
Current Teachers: 1832
Current Administrators: 125
Current Support Staff: 625
So, by enlarging classes AND cutting teachers, this is what the total change will be:
Grade 4 current average class size: 27.4
Average 2012-2013 class size: 31.6
Grade 5 current average class size: 27.9
Average 2012-2013: 32
Grade 6 -8 current: 25.12
2012-2013 average: 28.5
Grade 9-12 current: 24.1
2012-2013 average: 28.2
So this reduces the money Idaho GETS from the government by cutting down our class sizes, reduces how many teachers are getting paid, and increases the amount of student each teacher has per class, meaning less personal attention and one-on-one help from the teacher.
The proposed changes at high school include a requirement that students take 1 out of 6 required courses online. These online courses will be taken at school, but without a certified teacher in the classroom. As a result, the number of students needed to fund a classroo mwill increase by .5 in grades 9-12 for three additional years.
By increasing class sizes, adding online classes, reducing certified teachers per room, and all the other above proposals, the district will receive $2,567,536 total dollars LESS than the amount received today for the same enrollment. This places our revenue at pre-1998 levels.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Why would we possibly support a plan that sends us back 13 years?
HOW THEY WILL SPEND THE MONEY THEY'RE "SAVING":
-Merit pay system. Teachers will be able to earn additional income based on student test data.
This basically means that teachers will now be entirely teaching TO TESTS, and even if they are good, caring teachers who work hard, they will constantly be in jeopardy of losing their job due to something beyond their control: students taking tests. If a teacher has an unlucky draw and has a higher than usual percentage of "lazy" students who don't study for tests and therefore fail, the teacher is the one terminated due to something they can't control. There are BETTER answers to this than test-taking merit-based pay. Like, what about those supervisors at the schools getting paid 3 times what the teachers get? Can't they come up with a fair evaluation system that THEY do??
-Provide a laptop computer to all incoming freshman starting fall 2011.
This is a huuge waste of money in my opinion. EVERY freshman getting a laptop, and being required to take online classes? There are some kids out there who that laptop is going to be ruined in .02 seconds. Did they add in the additional IT support it is going to require to have thousands of students ALL working on district-provided laptops? Not to mention there is not accountability to a teacher in the online class system, and that is REALLY important to a lot of kids on the "fringe" of succeeding or not.
-Restore the salary grid. Teachers will receive the additional pay for experience and education that has been frozen for two years.
-Invest in classroom technology. Things like white boards, clickers, projectors, etc.
-Pay for dual college credits earned by students who have completed the state graduation requirements by the end of their junior year.
The 3 ideas above are good ones! I approve. What I don't approve of is how they're getting the money for this, and the other things they want to spend it on. So, that is why this is NOT the proposal we want to pass! They can make improvements! And don't forget, this is YOUR money they are talking about spending here. And even if you don't work in the education system, you probably have friends who do. Beyond that, if you don't have kids in school, you probably will sometime, or grandkids. This will affect everyone.
How can you help?
The bills implementing these changes will be introduced in the Senate Education Committee.
Public testimony is first scheduled for Monday, February 7 at 3 pm in the Senate Education Committee (the committee meets in the West end of the new below-ground section of the capital building). The testimony will continue for 4 days. Individuals can sign up to speak and will be given 3 minutes to testify.
Emailing representatives is also effective way to communicate. Although every email may not be read personally, staff members tally comments both for and against. Providing email testimony in support of some parts of the measure and against others is acceptable and is accouted for.
In particular, the members of the Senate Education Committee need input first. The members and contact information follows:
John Goedde, Chairman
Dean Mortimer, Vice Chairman
* denotes those who represent a portion of Joint School District No. 2